Storm‐induced turbulence alters shelf sea vertical fluxes


Storms are infrequent, intense, physical forcing events that represent a potentially significant driver of ocean ecosystems. The objective of this study was to assess changes in water column structure and turbulent fluxes caused by storms using an autonomous underwater glider, as well as the chlorophyll a (Chl a ) response to the altered physical environment. The glider was able to measure throughout the complete life cycle of Storm Bertha as it passed over the North Sea in August 2014, from its arrival to dissipation. Storm Bertha triggered rapid mixing of the thermocline through shear instability, increasing vertical fluxes by nearly an order of magnitude, and promoting increases in surface layer Chl a . The results demonstrate that storms represent a significant fraction of seasonal vertical turbulent fluxes, with potentially important consequences for biological production in shelf seas.
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